New Idea Society
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New Idea Society

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"The World is Bright and Lonely Album Review"

When you focus an entire album around lyrics, those lyrics had better be as dynamic and engaging as possible. Let me preface, though; New Idea Society's The World Is Bright and Lonely is not a spoken word endeavour. The instrumentation, minimal as it may be, does accent singer Mike Law's oft-complex musings about as well as could be asked for.

And when things are good, as they are on "Don't Sleep," the plaintive instrumental background is almost an afterthought. Law's storytelling is the focus.

It's a very simple and very common topic among singer-songwriters like Law, but the perspective of a romantic tryst presented in "Don't Sleep" is oddly compelling. Lines like "I am not sure where I am, but the record plays and the ceiling spins / So I will slip right in and hold you close until my darkness dims." It doesn't leave much to the imagination, but the real earnest inflection that Law sings with brings some real strength to the track. The disillusioned "Waking Dreams and Rooms" casts a similar feel, only this time it's the somber story of a man dealing with loss.

Dazed on a mountain slope my grandmother wanders home, along the high hollow the chill never broke / Her mother says with a drawl, 'oh child, the lord says it's bound to be your fault' / And no house will ever again be your home, I am not sure what pain is, or how she coped.

The haunting way in which those words are delivered resonate much more loudly than the delicate piano keystrokes and strings that accompany them. There's just something more tangible in the song than the average slow-paced, melancholy track. It feels much more real, and it's by far the standout of the album. It's followed up by what could easily be a Bright Eyes B-side, "Part II: The World Is Bright and Lonely." When Law instructs to "grab the darkness with your toughest top two teeth, and bite right through into the obscene," one can't help but picture Conor Oberst looking over his shoulder with a wry smile, knowing Law's pen may well have been his own.

There's a real solid basis on this album, but there's also some missteps ("Single Thread," "Compass,") that keep it from reaching to the next level. The really great songs sparkle, though, and if the lyrics on "Waking Dreams and Rooms" don't make an impact on you, I just don't know what will. -

"The World is Bright and Lonely Album Review"

Multi-instrumentalist Mike Law from Brooklyn, leads a broad and winding troupe of musos armed with an aching soul, a Conor Oberst skirting voice and a catalogue of searching, life discovering lyrics. Despite the departure of previous writing partner Stephen Brodsky (of Cave-in fame) that combined to produce a bracing, rustic and pulsing debut album You Are Awake Or Asleep using simplistic, basement based recording techniques, Law still follows the same ethos. Single Thread epitomises this with a yearning, country blues slant and shows up the longing lyrical pit that Law has at his disposal;

All I need is a way through, All I want is what you said.
All I want is an answer; All I need is a single thread,
To catch this falling weight.

An uncharacteristic, digital toe gives the fuzzy Don’t Sleep extra energy and a quaint lift. The fuzzy guitar and percussion volume seems to build up along with the aching feeling through Where Are You Now, as Law seems to be indulging in catharsis. The Only Sound unashamedly brandishes a cutting lyrical edge and conceals frustration behind a winding and deftly drawn out backing range. Stunning atmospheric touches peppers this searching full length and the work of producer Andrew Schneider is prevalent throughout and keeps the mood growing.

Matching the poetic touch and bleeding heart of acts such as Bright Eyes and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. through Waking Dreams And Rooms and continuing into Part 11; The World Is Bright And Lonely, slows things down to a pondering level. This allows Law and his backing band to show a colourful instrumental touch. Medicine Show is psychedelically glossed over with a Bob Dylan coat and trickles neatly into the weeping, acoustic and string fuelled ballad Let It Be. Law has made sure that the New Idea Society is not changing course despite shedding one half of its creative body. -

"The World is Bright and Lonely Album Review"

For The World is Bright and Lonely, New Idea Society's Mike Law walks a fine line between poetry and prose. The lyrical structures are simple and for the most part unchanging, and there is a more simple pattern within it all, almost every line the start of a new thought or idea. But herein lies the genius and creativity that is Mike Law. The lines drop onto the page like a Rorschach inkblot, open to interpretation but still terribly obvious at times. The World is Bright and Lonely is the work of a group of musicians, Law at the forefront, who recorded an album live in studio without overdub, because “that is what music sounds like.” It's the work of a man that is absolutely captivating to watch perform live, solo or backed by full band, to a room of no more than thirty people. The World is Bright and Lonely is an opposite on itself, implying we are inherently alone but hopeful of something better. It's an appropriate title, as The World is Bright and Lonely is suffocating in its simplicity and comforting in its complexities.

Law simply doesn't stop in the album's opener, “Press Reverse.” As bells twinkle in an epic war against droning instrumentals, Law barely takes a breath, changing his tone more than inhaling oxygen. His lyrical persona is no better seen in the song, as Law sings, cryptically and with clarity:

Your eloquence speaks so slow that it talks itself hoarse / and the delivery, it has been brought, and it's truer than you ever thought / you must know that there is no other way that could ever make these ramblers stay.

A few songs later, “Don't Sleep” opens up like a typical One AM Radio song, leading to an upbeat song that is reminiscent of something The Postal Service would do if they used more conventional instruments. Law's voice is noticeably filled with joy and happiness, the top of the roller coaster range of emotions that is The World is Bright and Lonely. “Drawbridge Kid” comes in next, arguably New Idea Society's best offering. Featuring the same steady drum kicks and rolls throughout, bells, ambient bass and guest guitar work by Kurt Ballou, and Law back to his rambling best. Law's images are macabre, “Everything he looks after meets with disaster, and his teeth are just useless details,” and as the song goes on he realizes what he is really up against, and asks, “Is there any way to draw the drapes to keep out all of the despair?”

The album stays on the same track as it progresses, polarizing itself and then somehow finding a middle ground as it goes on. The viola in “The Only Sound” complements Law perfectly as he desperately and depressingly sings of winter's arrival and the absence of love. “Dress Shirt” is one of the most straightforward songs on The World is Bright and Lonely, as Law borrows a dress shirt that sets off a series of uncomfortable and painful events, with Law forcefully singing, “I would never wear that shirt again, I hope it falls apart at every thread!”

The longest song on the album clocks in at eight minutes, and features Law's warbling voice and the simple backing of a banjo comparable to a more polished Conor Oberst, as Law grudgingly sings the album's title numerous times. The final song on The World is Bright and Lonely is “Compass,” featuring music that sounds like it was finally released from one of Bob Dylan's studio sessions.

Comparisons to other musical acts aside, New Idea Society has created their own identity that ambushes you with their talent, and Mike Law and his musical ensemble have proven their abilities to create an album that shows the cohesiveness and power of opposing ideas and emotions. - Scenepointblank

"New Idea Society - The World is Bright and Lonely"

"a cute 50 minutes of modest indie pop in the vein of Nada Surf or the National" - Alternative Press


New Idea Society (EP) - 2002 - Undecided Records
You Are Awake or Asleep (LP)- 2005 - Magic Bullet Records
The World is Bright and Lonely (LP) - 2007 - Exotic Fever Records (US), Daymare (Japan)
Strange Language/They Won't Find Us (Single) - 2008 - Daymare (Japan)



New Idea Society is centered around its main creative force and songwriter Mike Law.

In 2007, the band released the lyrically and melodically dense "The World Is Bright And Lonely" which was a huge departure from its last effort, the slow and dreamy "You Are Awake Or Asleep" (2005).

Initially, New Idea Society began as a casual recording project of Mike Law and his main collaborator and close friend Stephen Brodsky, formerly of Cave In. The band has since moved to being Law's main vehicle with the inactivity of his former band, the off-rock trio he fronted in Boston, EULCID. With Stephen's role in NIS diminishing while he works on other projects, fellow Boston native Chris DeAngelis joined on piano and organ on "The World Is Bright And Lonely" and has taken an increased role in the band. This along with the addition of a permanent rhythm section of drummer Alan Cage, formerly of Quicksand, and Mike DiBenedetto has made the band more cohesive than ever.

2007's "The World Is Bright And Lonely" was the bands first "proper" studio recording. With a lyrical maze and thumping urgency it highlights the excitement and energy of the band live, as it was primarily recorded totally live in the studio (yes vocals too) with almost no overdubs. The band chose to work this way with producer Andrew Schnieder because they wanted to create an album that was as organic as possible, unlike the computer assembly technique of many of today's albums. New Idea Society toured Europe throughout the end of 2007.

In 2008, the band recorded its third, as yet untitled, full length album. Producer Andy LeMaster, who has worked with REM, the Drive by Truckers and Bright Eyes, was brought in to work his magic on the record. 2009 will see New Idea Society touring various continents to support its newest release.